Eurydice, though, is bored. And that servant, John Styx, has fallen in love with her. Jupiter tries to seduce Eurydice — disguised as a giant fly. Jupiter arranges to help Eurydice escape. Pluto is holding a feast for the gods, Eurydice should attend in disguise, and then slip off when all the guests leave.
Il m'a semblé | Orphée aux enfers | Jacques Offenbach
He then buzzes off. At the feast, Eurydice, disguised as a Bacchante, entertains the gods by singing a hymn to the god of alcohol. Everyone then dances a Galop infernal, better known as the Can-Can:. Jupiter reluctantly agrees, but gives Orpheus one condition: he must lead her back to the mortal world without glancing back at her.
If he looks back, she will be lost to him. Who promptly vanishes. Orpheus has lost her a happy ending for him , and his wife becomes a bacchante.
The Greeks themselves, though, would have seen in Offenbach a successor to Aristophanes , their brilliant comic playwright who sent up both serious art particularly the plays of Euripides and mythology. He puts everyday people, with contemporary mores, into unreal, historical, or mythological situations, to poke fun at conventions.
Orpheus wants to divorce his wife, but the scandal would end his career; he pretends to be a devoted husband, to set an example to posterity. The Olympians pretend to be a happy, well-adjusted family when Public Opinion comes calling, while Jupiter keeps up the appearance of respectability; if he is not virtuous, at least let him appear so.
Appearances are all. Everybody knows the Cancan, which has come to symbolise Paris: racy, decadent, yet ever so much fun.
The original is tighter, but who would object to another hour of Offenbach? Several of the numbers are excellent, particularly the Rondo des Policemen, and the septet for the judges of the Underworld.
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Notify me of new posts via email. The myth of Orpheus and Eurydice is one of opera's most potent archetypes, the subject of the earliest experiments in the genre by Peri and Monteverdi. But Offenbach's wickedly witty operetta uses it as a vehicle to lampoon stuffy artistic conventions as well as the social and political realities of Paris in the Second Empire.
In this sublimely ridiculous scenario, Eurydice is a flighty flirt only too happy to be separated from husband Orpheus, a dullard violin teacher, when Pluto kidnaps her into his realm. At the promptings of the moralistic figure Public Opinion, Orpheus reluctantly plays out the prescribed mythic pattern of trying to reclaim his wife, while a depraved assortment of gods intervenes.
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The collision here of sacrosanct myth with opera buffa seems almost to anticipate aspects of Strauss's Ariadne auf Naxos; there is, to be sure, no mistaking an artistic lineage that leads to the romps of Gilbert and Sullivan. Marc Minkowski teases Offenbach's over-the-top parodies an irreverent quote of Gluck's "Che faro senza Eurydice," for example and stylistic gear-changes into an irresistibly fizzy concoction, using essentially the original version with additions from the expanded score of The orchestra brings out the exuberance of Offenbach's persistent dance rhythms--whether waltz based or in the famous can-can galop of the bacchanalian finale--as well as the tune-rich nature of the score.
And the cast sparkles, featuring the crystalline acrobatics of Natalie Dessay's Eurydice, Ewa Podles in dusky, scornful contralto as Public Opinion, and Laurent Naouri as a horny Jupiter--to mention just a few of the treats in store here. Ewa Podles gives Public Opinion exactly the right amount of santimonious self-rightousness. A truly delightful recording - even if you aren't an opera lover, you owe it to yourself to listen to this wonderful romp to Mount Olympus and the Underworld Great performances all around, great sound Dotted as it was with terrific tunes and very witty dialogue, the production as a whole dragged a bit, especially during the long ballet sequences.
But now the same label has come out with a brand new recording CDCB 2 on two CDs of the original two act version with some additions from the longer one. And as Jackie Gleason used to say, it is a regular riot. With Natalie Dessay as a screaming Eurydice the name means "wide justice" according to Robert Graves who can make herself quite at home Down There and Yan Beuran as her cello-playing spouse who has to be forced by Public Opinion Ewa Podles, in a bit of classy casting to try to bring back his wife, this version simply hurtles headlong under the direction of Marc Minkowski from one great spoof of the venerable legend the Olympians in revolt against too much ambrosia as the orchestra plays the Marseillaise to another some gods dancing a minuet while the rest indulge in a "galop infernal"-which the cuties at the Moulin Rouge took as their own and called it the Can-can!
So brush up on your French as you follow the text and you should for this one, you know and really have a good time on earth, on Olympus, and "aux enfers. John Cragg Delta greater Vancouver , B. The small, music-hall size orchestra and the lively, burlesque comedy carries the whole thing through without its dragging. There are innumerable memorable musical moments, so that repeated listening is rewarding, even though French spoken gags get a bit tedioius on too many repetitions.
Orphée aux Enfers (Opéra National de Lyon)
Natalie Dessay very much comes into her own -- a great singer who is also a great comedienne. But Ewa Podles' over-the-top performance, despite some vagaries in the French pronunciation, threatens to steal the show, much as Dessay threatens to steal the show from bigger-name sopranos in recordings of other operas.
Oh that Minkowski had toured more widely with this production -- it must have been a marvelous evening of theatre as well as of music! Very funny and well performed. The conducting is superb and the performers are excellent: standouts are Natalie Dessay as Eurydice and Laurent Naori as Jupiter. I thought she was fantastic, and very funny in her own way. A rollicking romp that skewers an ancient Greek myth.
You can hear the raised eye-brows and knowing glances as Marc Minkowski sets fast pace to this satirical re-telling of the Orpheus myth.
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